Following the recent relaxation of the restriction placed on religious gathering in Nigeria earlier in the year by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in order to help contain the spread of the Corona Virus in the country, the Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev C. V. C Onaga has expressed his gratitude and joy for the relaxation.
The Bishop while speaking to pressmen today at the Bishop’s Court expressed his happiness in the reopening of Church activities as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) announced the relaxation of the restriction placed on religious worship.
He said that the restriction had the problem of faith expression saying that “not all aspects of our religious activities could be fulfilled on the screen and those aspects were painfully being missed by the people” so the relaxation has brought relief, he said.
Bishop Callistus Onaga maintained that in as much as there is need for human efforts to be put in, the divine intervention was very necessary. “We believe in the principal of 99% perspiration but 1% inspiration, which means that in whatever thing we are doing, we try to exhaust all human possibilities and avenue but then we make room for that 1% intervention of God”, His Lordship said.
He went further to say that, truly God can be visited at any point but our worshiping grounds happen to be a place of contact that we missed so much.”
one consoling fact according to His Lordship is that it is a pandemic and isn’t peculiar to Nigeria and at a certain stage, plans on how to start living with the virus had to be made since total eradication seems to be only through vaccination which has not been found and might take a little long.
In his words; “Because of this, certain regulations and steps would have to be taken in order to contain the disease, so in our churches, we shall maintain all the regulations of the NCDC which includes basic hygiene like washing of hands with soap under running water, physical distancing during Mass by having 2 persons per pew and face masking since according to NCDC, avoidance of contact would help in limiting the possibilities of contracting the virus and the Diocese has been observing all these guidelines in all Masses that has had to be celebrated even in lockdown.”
The Bishop pleaded with other agencies to support the effort of the churches and also observe the guidelines of the NCDC as non-adherence by these agencies makes nonsense of all the efforts of the church.
“I want the people to understand that there has to be synergy in all the aspects of life we have, our religious, social, cultural and academy life, each has to complement one another for COVID 19 to be combated.”
Having Attendance Register in Masses
Bishop Onaga further said that the issue of having an attendance register for all who comes to church is going to be difficult because as against the previous 2 hours or thereabout which a normal Mass takes, “we have been adhering to celebrating Mass for just 1 hour or 45mins even and fixing registration within the already short time will be very difficult, but we shall try it.”
Bishop Onaga maintained that the Church should not be the major problem as it is already adhering to the NCDC laid down guidelines. “The bigger problem is not the church but rather, the market places and motor parks because people cluster in market places and also seem to throw away their facemask even while in public transport. Will the taxi man also keep his own register? The Bishop asked. It’s a very complicated matter, but we shall do our best”
Success of the previous lockdown
Speaking on what the previous lockdown achieved, the Bishop said that contrary to the belief of some people that the lockdown was not necessary, Bishop Onaga maintained that the lockdown helped in limiting contacts, helped people to take care of their personal hygiene and also made people to realize that one must not go to every place, “the lockdown helped in restricting yourself to the very necessary things you are supposed to do, all thanks to the initial lockdown.”
“God is helping us because when we check our population and the way we cluster in other places we have mentioned earlier, you will be wondering why we are still dying in small bits.”
Bishop Onaga said that with the relaxation of the restriction on Churches, “the regulation will be followed in all activities of the Catholic Churches in Enugu Diocese; from baptism, to prayers, to Mass and wedding ceremonies must not have more than 20 peoples to avoid breaking the rule.”
The Bishop concluded by asking all Catholic Faithful of the Diocese of Enugu to make sure they abide by the regulations of the NCDC.